UK, EU at odds over Brexit

The EU Brexit negotiator calls for legal certainty' over citizens' rights.

The UK and EU are still odds over citizens’ right and the amount the UK will pay to leave the bloc, at the end of the second week of Brexit talks.

EU negotiator, Michel Barnier said the UK had not been clear enough about where it stands on these issues and that was hampering progress.

UK Brexit Secretary, David Davis said the negotiations on the so-called divorce bill had been “robust”.

He said progress had been made but both sides needed to show “flexibility”.

Mr Barnier said, “We require this clarification on the financial settlement, on citizens’ rights, on Ireland – with the two key points of the common travel area and the Good Friday Agreement – and the other separation issues where this week’s experience has quite simply shown we make better progress where our respective positions are clear.”

Mr Davis said: “We have had robust but constructive talks this week. Clearly there’s a lot left to talk about and further work before we can resolve this. Ultimately, getting to a solution will require flexibility from both sides.”

Michel Barnier said there had been some areas of agreement about how Britons living abroad and EU nationals living in the UK should be treated after Brexit.

But there was disagreement over “the rights of future family members” – meaning children born in the future to EU citizens in the UK and “the exports of certain social benefits”.

‘Same rights’
The EU wants rights currently enjoyed by EU citizens in the UK, access to healthcare, welfare, education, residence, to apply to children and family members, whether they currently live in the UK or not and to continue in perpetuity, after the death or divorce of the rights-holder.

The UK wants to give all EU nationals living in the UK the same rights as British citizens but they would have to have been residents for five years and there would be a “cut-off point”, probably March 29, 2017, when Article 50 was triggered.

After this date they will be able to build up their five years’ entitlement.

In addition, EU nationals who get married after March 2019 would lose the right to bring family members to the UK, unless they pass an income test, like non-EU migrants.

They could also risk losing their right to return to Britain if they leave for more than two years.

David Davis said the UK had published its approach to citizens’ rights since the first round of negotiations, which he described as “both a fair and serious offer” and had now published a joint paper setting out areas of agreement and issues for further talks.

He said sticking points in the talks included the rights of employees of EU-based companies to work for extended periods in other countries, such as the UK and the right of EU citizens to vote in UK local elections.

BBC/Sammie Idika